Life After Home School and the Move


Life after home school

Tomorrow is Daniel’s very first day of kindergarten. To me he still looks like this:

How can I send this sweet Bama boy to kindergarten??

But, believe it or not, the Dan Man is 5, and he is extremely excited about going to school with his brothers. They will all be at the same school together. I had planned it differently, but at the last minute Daniel was awarded a scholarship, so that worked out beautifully.

It’s hard to even focus on how much is happening. Our heads are still spinning. In June, we trekked across the U.S. of A. In July, we hurriedly unpacked. (So now I need to go back and re-organize everything.) Then we headed off to one vacation after another. We did Disney. We saw friends. We went to Destin. We visited family.

I feel as though all along, our life keeps improving more and more. Happy things keep happening to us, and I’ve been so much in recovery from the dismal beginning of 2016 that it’s taken me awhile for this new thing to set in to my head.

I’m not stressed anymore! Wait. I don’t have to make lesson plans? Nope.

I don’t have to do any teacher training? Nope.

I don’t have to even feed everyone lunch? Nope.

I can be at my parents’ house in two hours? Yep!

The big boys are already in school, and they LIKE it??  Yes!!!

They actually like their new school a LOT!!!

I keep thinking about those Christian song lyrics, “He set my feet upon a rock.” Of course, that is also in the Bible, but it’s so much easier to pop in my head when it’s set to music. In my head that’s me. I was sinking in my misery, and I have been lifted and set upon a rock. Amen. Amen. Amen.

I think we’re on the verge of loving it here. I made my schedule for tomorrow, and it doesn’t sound hard! I didn’t even have to color-code it!! 

Praise the Lord, y’all! I have found relief!!! Now we just need to make a friend or two, and we’ll be all set.

We aren’t off to a great start on the makin’ friends bit. First off, we’ve lived here over a month and we’ve been out of town for most of that.

Secondly, we have a son whose Southern accent impersonation is down right hilarious. I only hope the locals will think so, instead of feeling like they’re being made fun of. I haven’t heard him do it in public though, so we should be good. (Ask Joshua to talk Southern next time you see it. You will laugh!!)

Then there was the doctor’s office incident. Alan took all four boys to the doc on a Saturday by himself. (I was out of town again.) We just needed to get school and sports forms filled out. Moving is such a pain when it comes to health care!!! (That’s another reason our company should let us live places a little longer.)

Well, they were all there for HOURS, but everyone was well behaved, thankfully. But right at the end, the doctors refused to sign the sports forms for ALL the boys! Can you believe that!!??  And it was because of my heart problem! Ugh.  Way to go, Me!

Alan tried to convince them that the boys do not have it, and even I am fine. I could play sports even. (Not well, but I could do it.) He failed to convince Doc #1, so he asked to get a second opinion from one of the other docs there that day.

Doc #2 also denied us. We all have to go to a cardiologist before they will be cleared to play sports. Doctors totally freak out about the v-tach thing, but I’m telling you mine is benign. It’s monomorphic, non-sustained. I’m good.

So today we’re sitting in Sunday School, and Alan whispers, “That doctor that wouldn’t sign the boys’ sports physicals is right over there.” Yep. Doc #1 is in our Sunday School class.

No way.

Yes way.

We chatted with him after class. He didn’t budge any on the issue, but hopefully we are all on good terms. I’m sure he’s a very good doctor. It was just a little embarrassing.

Oh, yeah, that’s us. We’re just making friends all over the place.

life after home school

Won’t you be our friend??

I am seriously, for real, truly going to take a “1st day of Kindergarten” picture for Dan tomorrow. And a “3rd day” pic for J and C! I don’t know why I’ve had so much trouble remembering.

Have your kids/grandkids started back to school yet? Share with me in the comments!

Classical Conversations, Basketball, Busy Bags, and Other Mom Stuff

Caleb carved this shark in the coral reef onto foam board. Then he painted it and stamped it onto paper. This photo is of the foam board after using it to stamp the paper with the picture.

Caleb carved this shark in the coral reef on foam board. Then he painted it and stamped it onto paper. 

These are the kinds of fun things we get to do in Classical Conversations, our home school tutoring service and curriculum. Look closely at his picture to see if you can find the eel coming out of the coral. (Hint: middle-left, It’s a profile with an eye.)

Classical Conversations is a rigorous way to approach home schooling, but it is also fun. It has definitely raised the educational bar for us.


If you felt like you were reading the blog of a pitiful, dying woman in January and February, then I have good news for you!

I’m feeling better!

Going gluten free was my first step towards wellness. Now I’m also doing this Purification 21 day cleanse, which I’ll tell you more about soon, and I’m feeling even better. I haven’t lost a single pound, though. Ah, well. Go figure.

Plenty of happy things have been happening lately in school and sports and life in general, and of course you know I’m here to share all that.

First, let’s talk about home school.

I’m well aware that I have not been much of a home school blogger this year, so let me show ya a tad bit of what we’ve been up to lately without upsetting my big boys with over-share, of course…

home schooling with classical conversations

because sitting down is overrated, apparently

home school with classical conversations

Voluntarily reading the Bible! This kid knows how to make his momma smile!!

home school with CC

With our CC curriculum, the boys learn 5 new geographical locations to map out every week, which we practice everyday.

Last year we mostly traced a dry erase map, but actually drawing out the map locations every day has helped them learn it better. This particular map went along with our history lesson on the advanced (native) civilizations of Mesoamerica.

preschool homeschool

Dan and JD aren’t in CC yet. They are sorting colors and letters in their egg crates. (Thank you, Amy!)

The boys have an aunt who is crafty and extremely teacher oriented. She makes these off-the-chain busy bags, and THEN she ever so kindly shares them with us!! So exciting! She puts these kits together, complete with instructions and personalized details, and sends them to us in the mail!

Thank you, Amy!!!

homeschool with CC

We’re memorizing all of the helping verbs as well as all of the prepositions this year in grammar for CC.

home school with classical conversations

See! They do sit and work sometimes!

home school with classical conversations

Super proud mom moment. I took the boys to the park, and Caleb brought along a book to read. It was one of those unusually perfect days, in which the boys played and shared and helped each other out so perfectly (In public!!!) that I got to look like Mom of the year. Thank you, boys.


home school with classical conversations

We’re in earth science for this part of Cycle 1. (I liked life science better, but it all must be covered.)

home school with classical conversations

I got especially excited about this one because he beat the timer.

home school with classical conversations

This is another one of Amy’s incredible busy bags. Um, hello? They even have our pictures on them, and of course, they are laminated.

No, she doesn’t sell them, but if she ever decides to open shop, you can bet I will sell them for her right here.

But you know we are not just academic here. Allow me to share this winter’s big passion:

home school with classical conversations

Yes. This is my basketball necklace.


Did you know that Alan coached a team this year, a team that both Joshua and Caleb got to play on? And did you also know that we won almost all of our games?

home school with classical conversations

That’s Joshua with the ball.

Most importantly, both boys had a blast, made new friends, learned a great deal about basketball and how to play it, got tons of exercise, and grew in confidence!! (I was most excited about that last part!)

Joshua, passing to Caleb

Joshua scored so many times, and Caleb made a few baskets as well. They were both energized and highly involved, and it was such a pleasure to watch them play.


Caleb, keeping it high


Coach Dads

Alan is that unusually experienced and exciting coach that every parent or kid would want to have, unless having snack is important to you. Alan’s stance on snack: “If someone wants to organize snacks, that’s fine. I’m not going to, but feel free.” And you know what? No one did, and I don’t think anyone missed snacks.  Fun season!



Of course, now it’s time to move on to baseball, but don’t worry. I already have two baseball charms ready for my necklace and my bracelet.


Hope everyone has a fabulous week, whether we like the election results or not!

When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” C. S. Lewis

My Outline for Science Plans for CC Cycle 1 (Part 1)

Science plans

Planning time!

I feel like I will have an extremely firm grasp on my science plan by the time I finish poring over all these books!

One interesting thing about the classical approach to education is that we pull the focus AWAY from good ol’ textbooks and look to real life experience and “living” books instead.  (By living books, I just mean books that are not sold as textbooks.)

However, I do actually have several ‘textbooks’ that we will reference this school year.

What I have in my planner for science this year is WAY more exciting than just textbooks. This is going to be a fabulously fun science year for us. I am stoked. Here’s a little preview of what I have in mind….

Field Trips

Last year we got to go to the aquarium, the redwood forest, the beach, Point Lobos, the Pinnacles, the San Diego Zoo, and a whale tour. THAT will be hard to top, eh?

Last year we covered land forms, aquatic animals, and all the major systems of the human body (and traced our bodies and painted, labeled, and assembled all the major organs). We also memorized the first 16 elements of the Periodic Table, the scientific method, learned about evolution, and learned the definition and parts of an atom (even to include leptons and quarks!). We built our own little atom, and we did 24 science experiments in the classroom. We also observed sea mammals in their natural habitat, observed kelp forests, and we learned about gradual and sudden geological changes. We even discussed creationism versus the Theory of Evolution.

You know, it’s true that things change gradually over time. It’s completely bonkers to think that the intricate people, animals, and plants that we have in this world magically appeared with no creator.  Bonkers! (But don’t worry. My children will be fully versed on both.)

This year is all about biology and earth science!

So here’s what I have for this year.. Most of these are in San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco, Golden Gate Park

1. The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (Okay, this ties in more with our history unit on ancient Japan.)

2. Bison Paddock

3. the San Francisco Botanical Garden

4. California Academy of Sciences (natural history museum, planetarium, and aquarium)

5. Conservatory of Flowers

6. Point Lobos

7. Yosemite National Park

8. The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley

Yeah….I’m a little bit excited!

9. Sacramento, because it’s our state capital, and we’ve never been there.

10 Science Camp at Mount Hermon– We are already registered!

11. Backyard bucket garden. We’ve already started potatoes. We have too many gophers to put the plants in the ground!


preschool science centers

I have these to give Daniel something to do with his hands. Lots of sorting and puzzles.

Take It to Your Seat Science Centers, Grades PreK-K


Here’s an example of a pre-school activity that the book has.

This just gives Dan something to do while the big boys are drawing and labeling things in their science notebook.

Of course, Dan can also draw things. Labeling will come much later. Dan’s 4.

Here are a few books I’m looking forward to using for science this year:

Osborne Search books

I love these Usborne Search books!

Each page is full of animal names and facts.

Then I have this fun lift-the-flap Usborne science book that we used last year too:


Drawing plant and animal cells this year!! This was always one of my favorite things in school!! Sorry about the smudge on my camera lens! Must clean the camera!

Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework

I’ve got so many tabs in this Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework book, I don’t even know why I bothered. Almost every page is tabbed!

Everything You Need To Know About Science Homework: A Desk Reference for Students and Parents

From the Lift the Tab Usborne Science:

great science books

Simple reproduction


Childcraft Plants Volume

Child craft has interesting stories to go along with the facts.

Some people look neat, tidy, and organized when they are planning. This is what it looks like when I plan:

planning time

a library explosion and a baby foot…Do you see those tiny little toes?

Big Book of Science Activities

I have several of these activities ear marked.

great science books

This one has neat pictures. It makes me want to buy a microscope.


Dinosaurs. This is Joshua’s #1 science interest. We’re going to learn about Dinos for added enrichment.

No school is complete without a system for chores. I will DEFINITELY keep this chore system in place. It has worked beautifully. I no longer have to unload the dishwasher in the mornings or kick-start the laundry by myself. By the end of this year, I’m hoping to be done putting all of the boys’ laundry away as well.

Chore Charts for kids

This works really well for us!


My GIANT kitchen wipe-off board serves so many purposes! If I have to actually use it to teach, I have no idea where I’ll write my daily plan…

Outline of this year’s science topics:

Weeks 1 & 2: Dinosaurs!

I. Classifications of Living Things

II. 5 Kingdoms of Living Things


III. Parts of animal cells

IV.Plant Cell parts

V. Major Groups of Invertebrates

VI. Vertebrates


VII. Animal Reproduction (live birth, eggs, etc.)

VIII. Types of Seed Plants

IX. Parts of a Plant

X. Kinds of Leaves and Leaf Parts

XI. Parts of a Flower

XII. Plant Systems


Science Camp: 1 Week at Mount Hermon Science Camp

XIII. Parts of the Earth

XIV. 3 Kinds of Rock

XV. Each continent’s highest mountain

XVI. 4 Kinds of Volcanoes

XVII. Parts of a Volcano


XVIII. 4 types of ocean floor

XIX. 3 Ocean Zones

XX. Parts of the Atmosphere

XXI. 5 Major circles of latitude


XXII. Kinds of weather fronts

XXIII. Types of clouds

XXIV. Markings on the globe

Memory Masters

I’ve already gotten each plan written on paper, and each print-out filed into that week’s folder.

I have a folder created for each of my students, for each week of the school year.


My file system: The old, rough-looking ones in front are the completed work from the last quarter of last year. The shiny new ones are for this coming school year.

Nonna (a retired school teacher herself) gave me this organizational idea, and I love it. All the plans and printed materials I need for each week of the year is filed by boy and week, so when I need it, I can just grab it all from one place.

As their work is completed, I file it right back in their folder.

excellent file system for homeschool

My File System. For example: Caleb- 3rd grade- Quarter 1- Week 1


Open the folder up, and there’s everything you need for that week. Here’s a peek into one of their folders.

This frees up daily space, as we don’t have to keep up with a bunch of workbooks. Hurray!

Science is the subject I’m most excited for this year. What are you looking forward to most? Do you have any more California field trip suggestions for us? That’s our favorite, so DO share!!



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